2014 USCAA Baseball Small College World Series Preview

2014 USCAA Baseball Small College World Series Preview

#1 University of Cincinnati-Clermont

The 2013 USCAA Baseball National Champions return as the top seed in the 2014 bracket. Several of the Cougars’ top performers from last year will return. Leading the way will be 2013 Tournament MVP Ryan Beard. Beard, who pitched fifteen innings of one-run ball during the final two days of last year’s tournament, returns after compiling at 3.29 ERA in 52.1 innings this season. Also returning are 2013 All-Tournament team members Mike Gastrich (.398/.475/.573) and Jake Scarlato (.293/.325/.320, 12 SB’s). Clermont’s potent offense also includes Ryan Mummert (6 HR’s, .664 slugging percentage), and John Cloyd (.365 batting average, 23 SB’s).

#2 Lindenwood University-Belleville

Lindenwood University-Belleville will head to their second straight USCAA Small College World Series after completing a 34-14 season through a tough NAIA schedule. The Lynx are led by key returnees Sean Keeney (.331/.448/.416, 18 SB’s), Christian Cavaness (.339/.424/.548, 5 HR’s), and Kyle Forsythe (.339/.435/.446). The Lynx will also return ace Joseph Phelps, a 2013 USCAA Honorable Mention All-American to the Championship. In his only appearance during last year’s tournament Phelps tossed a complete game win. Michael Sabatino (67.1 IP, 4.14 ERA) and Dylan Arvai (56.1 IP, 2.88 ERA) give the Lynx plenty of options on the mound.

#3 Penn State Greater Allegheny

Last year’s runner up, the Lions went on a six game winning streak at the Small College World Series after dropping their opening game against Selma University, and fell just short of their first USCAA Baseball National Championship. Entering this year’s tournament with a 30-9 record, Penn State Greater Allegheny will return several top performers, including Jose Pablo Bonilla (.427/.511/.701), Adam Wehr (.411/.475/.634), and pitcher Zach Krivda (51 IP, 2.65 ERA, 65 K’s). Krivda will team with Braedon Pennington (51.2 IP, 1.57 ERA, 62 K’s) to give Penn State Greater Allegheny a solid 1-2 punch in the rotation to compliment the powerful lineup.

#4 The Apprentice School

The Builders return to the USCAA Baseball National Championship for an unprecedented fifteenth year in the row. Last year The Apprentice School made it all the way to finals of the winner’s bracket before falling to University of Cincinnati-Clermont and Penn State Greater Allegheny in back-to-back games to finish third. The Builders return Trevin Wilson (.275/.347/.313) and 2013 All-Tournament Team member Chris Aldridge (.418/.466/.562) on offense. On the mound The Apprentice School’s deep pitching staff features Chris Perry (71.1 IP, 2.40 ERA, 52 K’s), Taylor Gomer (56 IP, 1.45 ERA, 41 K’s), Ryland Edwards (52.2 IP, 3.42 ERA, 47 K’s) and three-time USCAA All-American Sam Massie (25 IP, 2.52 ERA, 30 K’s, 7 saves) as closer.

#5 Briarcliffe College

Perennial contender, Briarcliffe College, will return to the USCAA Baseball National Championship following another strong season. The 2010 and 2011 National Champions are led by the trio of Joseph Fiorino (.420/.484/.572, 26 SB’s), Chris Carrano (.376/.443/.534, 4 HR’s), and 2013 USCAA Second-Team All-American Anthony Puma (.361/.450/.443) on offense. The Bulldogs will rely on the arms of Joseph Portella (43.1 IP, 4.36 ERA, 44 K’s), Ben Wright (34.2 IP, 0.78 ERA, 33 K’s) and Michael Manning (30 IP, 1.50 ERA, 17 K’s) in their push to capture another USCAA Baseball National Championship.  

#6 St. Joseph’s College-Brooklyn

After another 20 win season, the Bears of St. Joseph’s College-Brooklyn will make a second straight trip to the Small College World Series. The number one scoring offense in the USCAA is led by slugger Joe Mendez (.375/.466/.758, 10 HR’s), Thomas McKenna (.369/.462/.554), 20 SB’s), Mike Cundari (.378/.447/.488), and Nicholas Loprinzi (.373/.431/.432). Junior Chris Cutrone pulls double duty for the Bears, serving as the team’s number one pitcher (64.2 IP, 3.06 ERA, 46 K’s) and second baseman (.350/.485/.505).

#7 Selma University

The Selma University Bulldogs will also be returning to the Small College World Series for their second straight season. After losing games to Penn State Greater Allegheny and The Apprentice School last year, the second and third place finishers, the Bulldogs will be looking to make a bigger splash this year. Returning for Selma will be star outfielder Mitchell Webb (.447/.533/.737). Joining Webb in the Selma lineup will be Juan Pablo Martinez (.478/.520/.783, 18 SB’s), holder of the top slugging percentage in the USCAA. Leading the Bulldogs on the mound will be Michael Lee and Daniel Keller.  

#8 Victory University

Making their first appearance in the USCAA Baseball National Championship, the Eagles of Victory University enter the Small College World Series as the most interesting team to watch. The Eagles finished a tough regular season 28-22, but it was a season that almost didn’t happen. With the school closing its doors this summer, the athletic program has been funded by private donations since early March. Victory University will have emotion on their side as they head to Springfield, Illinois to play their last games.

#9 Rochester College

Rochester College enters the 2014 Small College World Series as one of the hottest teams in the field. The Warriors have won ten of their last twelve games, including a split with number one seed University of Cincinnati-Clermont. Rochester College is led by 2013 USCAA Second-Team All-American Luke Strobl (.313/.377/.434), 2013 USCAA Honorable Mention All-American Chaz Hill (.284/.398/.370), and Kevin Moore (.349/.463/.413, 17 SB’s). The Warriors will turn to a group including Alex Riopelle (3.63 ERA), Jesse Rometty (5.13 ERA), Scott Kunert (3.24 ERA), Dominic Raona (2.49 ERA) and others to keep opposing offenses at bay.

#10 Robert Morris University-Springfield

Host institution Robert Morris University-Springfield returns to the Small College World Series after their appearances as a host during the 2012 tournament. The Eagles are led by Ryan Kittell (.298/.344/.421) and Kendall Interial (.276 batting average) on offense. 2013 USCAA Honorable Mention All-American pitcher Josh Ramirez returns, and will combine with Lewis Applegate (90 IP, 4.20 ERA, 119 K’s) atop the Robert Morris University-Springfield rotation. Applegate finished the season with the most strikeouts of any pitcher in the USCAA.